Perinatal Needs Assessment


The Perinatal Needs Assessment was a qualitative study examining the potential role that racism, racial disparities, and social determinants of health play in perpetuating perinatal health disparities in access and outcomes for Black mothers in wards 5, 7, and 8 in Washington, DC. The research team conducted interviews with community-based providers and Black pregnant and postpartum mothers from the selected wards to better understand the causes of late entry into prenatal care and maternal health inequities in the District.

  • Uncovering the Role of Racism in DC Reproductive Inequities (2020)
    Nationally, Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die in childbirth as compared to White women. These trends are reflected within the District as the history of segregation, the continuous impact of gentrification, and other ongoing systemic harms produce inequitable health outcomes for D.C.’s Black communities. This perinatal literature review defines the problem of racial reproductive health inequities, offers frameworks for understanding reproductive health equity, and sets the stage for a racial equity agenda for reproductive health in Washington, D.C.

  • “Racism Bleeds throughout this Entire Healthcare System”: Elevating Black Women’s Birth Stories in Washington, DC through A Racial Equity Lens (2022)
    The legacy of slavery, and long-standing anti-Black racism and white supremacy are evident in the foundation and functioning of our healthcare systems, especially the perinatal care system. Washington, DC currently holds the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, with nearly 39 deaths per every 100,000 live births. Despite having one of the highest maternal death rates in the country, White patients in DC have the lowest maternal mortality in the US. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers led by the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development conducted an in-depth qualitative study to document the role of racism, on multiple levels, in influencing access to and quality of perinatal care for Black women living in Wards, 5,7, and 8 in Washington, DC. More than 20 health and social service providers and 35 Black women from these Wards were interviewed and major themes and policy recommendations were identified.

  • Research Briefs were created by the study team after preparation of the full report to extract findings at the individual, program, and system level.
    Racism Drives the Maternal Health Crisis in Washington, DC:


Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development is a designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.